Above reproach: Honor Guard offers Airmen the chance to serve
By Mark Herlihy, 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
/ Published December 16, 2019
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – The ribbon rack is perfect, down to the quarter inch; the uniform is sharp; the cover is spotless; and the gloves are pristine with not a thread out of place.
On the walls in the building where they train, an Honor Guard Charge serves as a constant reminder that an Airman’s “standards of conduct must be above reproach, for I represent all others in my service.”
“I was always taught to honor those who served before us,” said Staff Sgt. Hailee Brohman, a full-time member of the Hanscom Air Force Base Patriot Honor Guard. “It is a humbling experience to hand the flag to a veteran’s next of kin.”
The team supports areas throughout New England and New York, providing military honors at veterans’ funerals, and comfort to the families left behind.
“The opportunity to support families in their time of grief is really remarkable,” said 1st Lt. Gregory Barrow, officer in charge, Patriot Honor Guard.
Second Lt. Amanda Marciniak, a project engineer for the Quick Reaction Capabilities Branch, recently served as a first-time officer in charge during an active duty funeral in New York.
“Having full military honors really put in perspective why we do what we do and how much it means to the family,” she said.
With a full-time staff of no more than 10 Airmen located at Hanscom, the unit relies on the augmentee program as a force multiplier.
The team’s area of responsibility stretches from the northern reaches of Maine to large parts of New York, covering approximately 78,000 square miles.
Having those resources available allows our team to accomplish our mission without Airmen traveling great distances, said Barrow, who highlighted that the team has supported more than 2,300 veterans’ funerals this year.
Augmentees include Hanscom Airmen as well as Airmen from Air National Guard and Reserve personnel throughout the AOR.
Members honor a veteran by playing taps, folding the American flag and presenting it to the next of kin.
“If anyone is looking to strengthen their connection with the Air Force or a chance to make a difference in the community, I strongly recommend the Honor Guard,” Marciniak said.
She also highlighted that it has helped her grow as a person by bringing new, humbling perspectives that made her thankful for the opportunity.
“Serving in the Honor Guard has really helped remind me why I joined the Air Force,” said Marciniak, who is an Honor Guard augmentee.
Anyone interested in learning more may attend the team’s weekly training session on Thursdays at 8 a.m. at Building 1210.
Barrow said the team provides motivated Airmen with a challenge, a good career-broadening opportunity and a chance to reconnect with their military heritage. Benefits include an Air Force Achievement Medal after 50 details, as well as professional growth for those serving as an officer in charge, which can earn company grade officers an Air Force Commendation Medal.
According to the Department of Defense, “By law, an honor guard detail for the burial of an eligible veteran consists of at least two members of the U.S. armed forces, and at least one member of the detail must be a representative from the deceased veteran’s service branch.”